One of the biggest storylines in Democratic politics since the 2018 midterm elections has concerned the future ambitions of Georgia state representative and gubernatorial candidate, Stacey Abrams.
In 2018, Abrams barely lost the gubernatorial race to Republican Brian Kemp, in a race plagued by rampant voter suppression and discredited by the fact that – as Georgia’s sitting Secretary of State – Kemp was supervising the race he himself was running in. After defeat, Abrams began the organization Fair Fight Action, which sued the new governor over his handling of the elections.
At the beginning of this year, influential Democrats were determined to persuade Abrams to run in 2020 against Georgia’s Senator David Perdue.
These included presidential candidates (Senators Harris and Gillibrand were both reported to have encouraged Abrams to run), Chuck Schumer and others in the U.S. Senate’s Democratic leadership, and major donors to the Party including close supporters of her 2018 campaign.
In May, Abrams brushed aside suggestions of a Senate run, seemingly in favor of even bigger plans; she tweeted that a 2020 run for the White House was “definitely on the table,” and rejected the suggestion from the Biden campaign of a Vice Presidential position saying, “I don’t think you run for second place…if I’m going to enter a primary, then I’m going to enter a primary.”
However, the speculation has at last been ended; Abrams will not be running for high office in 2020. She made the announcement on Tuesday in Las Vegas while addressing the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades.
In the speech, she laid out her plan to expand and re-brand Fair Fight Action into Fair Fight 2020. The initiative will expand from Georgia to 20 states in the Midwest and Southeast of the country, focusing on state-level voter protection. This is an issue close to Abrams’ heart; she lost the 2018 election by under 55,000 votes, which is almost precisely the number of new voter registrations that Brian Kemp delayed in the run-up to voting in one of many blatant acts of voter suppression.
Fair Fight 2020 will work with state political parties to correct inaccurate voter rolls, address shortages of voting machines and provisional ballots, and standardize procedures for counting absentee ballots.
The initiative also plans to set up state-by-state hotlines, so that communities can report election irregularities. The amount of investment the initiative is expected to put into these efforts could be as high as $5 million.
While her decision will see her increasingly lose the spotlight as the 2020 presidential primaries and general elections inevitably swallow up national news coverage, Abrams’ choice may indicate her real goal – a re-match with Brian Kemp for the Governor’s Mansion in 2022.
An organization like Fair Fight 2020 will keep Abrams in the spotlight regularly, give her a large pool of political experts to recruit from for future campaigns and, most importantly, will hopefully break down some of the egregious state laws that suppressed the vote in black and Democratic neighborhoods in 2018.
If Stacey Abrams is playing the long game and aiming at 2022, it will be much harder for Brian Kemp to rob her of her prize a second time.